Editor’s note: Richard Doty is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the UFO subject. Doty had a 20-year career with the Air Force, including years as a special agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). During that time, he was assigned to conduct surveillance on a scientist, Paul Bennewitz, who had inadvertently acquired information about a classified Air Force program. Doty admits he fed disinformation to Bennewitz and to other UFO researchers, forged documents, and muddied the waters.
Since leaving military service, Doty worked as a police officer and has been the subject of numerous articles and documentaries. He has long been considered a poster child for UFO disinformation, that is, false information about UFOs distributed by the Pentagon. His fingerprints are seen — justifiably or not — on nearly every new source of UFO information that surfaces.
In 2019, Doty was invited to speak at UFO Mega Con, a large UFO conference in Nevada. In his presentation, he acknowledged participating in surveillance of UFO groups and in disseminating false information. But Doty maintains that his interest in the UFO subject is legitimate and that he is now free so speak about certain programs he saw while in the military, including during a stint at Nevada’s Area 51 military base. After delivering his public remarks, Doty gave an exclusive interview to Mystery Wire’s George Knapp
George Knapp: So, Rick, I joked with you after you got off stage that at least you weren’t faced with torches and pitchforks. The response was pretty good. It was warm.
Rick Doty: I was surprised. Yeah, the response was quite warm. Compared to what I thought it would be.
Knapp: You have been the UFO boogeyman for at least 25 years, maybe longer.
Doty: At least 25 years.
Knapp: Does part of you get a kick out of that? A little bit?
Doty: I don’t let it bother me. I did initially. I don’t really let it get to me. I went from having a concern about it, to not really caring about it, to what you just said, and getting a kick out of it now.
Knapp: Did you ever come to a UFO conference while working?
Knapp: As an assignment?
Knapp: Can you tell me …
Doty: In the … I believe it was ‘83, maybe ‘84. I don’t remember the year but we came here. There were four of us that came here. And all we did was mingle. We took some photographs. We listened to some interviews. We made some contact with some people, but nothing real serious.
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Knapp: In a situation like that, is there an assignment? Something specific? Or just go and keep an eye on it, see what you find out?
Doty: There’s just a general collection assignment, go and collect whatever information you can.
Knapp: Does it still happen?
Doty: I’m sure it does. I saw … I’ve met two here. There were two here. One Air Force, Air Force OSI out of Nellis, and the other man … female out of Nellis … and the man, he wouldn’t tell me where he’s from. But he was Air Force intelligence.
Knapp: You can spot them.
Doty: He readily admitted it to us.
Knapp: Where does that information go? What would they be doing with it now?
Doty: They complete what they refer to as a domestic intelligence report. A collections report on attending a conference, UFO conference. They might find something interesting to write about, write in their report. They might hear something that might be of some interest to Air Force intelligence. And that’s what they do.
Knapp: So you would see ufologists who would hear that information, “Aha, the Air Force is spying on us.” Is there are legitimate national security aspect to it? Something maybe like the exploitation of ufologists by a foreign power, something like that?
Doty: That’s very interesting. Yes, it has happened. And there has been investigations on that. There was one particular UFO researcher that had been contacted by the Soviet Union. And that was … that researcher was Bill Moore. And that researcher wanted everything Bill Moore had or could obtain from UFO conferences. And so Bill Moore went to all of them. And Bill Moore collected. But fortunately, we were … we were on to that. And he was one of our sources. So he was reporting back to us.
Knapp: So he’s working with you, sharing that information. The Russians contact and ask him to do the same thing?
Knapp: Wow. Have you seen evidence of the Russians planting disinformation that would affect national security policy in some way and through the UFO issue?
Doty: But I haven’t experienced it myself. I’ve just read about it.